A Year In History: 2008

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Also Within This Year in History:


Barack Obama became the first Black American elected president in 2008, a year that also brought the release of “Iron Man,” the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the Great Recession deepened, investment manager Bernard Madoff was arrested for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history and the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto wrote a white paper introducing Bitcoin cryptocurrency to the world. Meanwhile, a fuzzy blanket with sleeves called the “Snuggie” sold some 4 million units over the holidays while inspiring a slew of parody commercials.

January 22

Heath Ledger dies of accidental prescription drug overdose

On January 22, 2008, Hollywood mourns a talented young actor’s life cut tragically short, after the body of 28-year-old Heath Ledger is found by his masseuse and housekeeper on the floor of his rented apartment in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. Best known for his Academy Award-nominated turn as the closeted gay cowboy […]

August 29

Republican John McCain selects Sarah Palin as his running mate

Taking a calculated risk to appeal to conservative voters, Republican presidential nominee John McCain sets the political world abuzz when he announces the selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate on August 29, 2008. At the time, Palin, a 44-year-old rising star known for her conservative stances and folksy charm, became the […]

September 10

CERN Large Hadron Collider is powered up

On September 10, 2008, scientists successfully flip the switch for the first time on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) lab in Geneva, kicking off what many called history’s biggest science experiment. Testing particle physics theories, the $8 billion LHC is the largest particle accelerator in the world, […]

November 4

Barack Obama elected as America’s first Black president

On November 4, 2008, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois defeats Senator John McCain of Arizona to become the 44th U.S. president, and the first African American elected to the White House. The 47-year-old Democrat garnered 365 electoral votes and nearly 53 percent of the popular vote, while his 72-year-old Republican challenger captured 173 electoral votes […]

November 4

Proposition 8 is passed in California, banning same-sex marriage

With over 13 million votes cast, California voters approve Proposition 8 on November 4, 2008, amending the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Only months earlier, in May 2008, the California Supreme Court had deemed the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, making California the second state in the country to legalize gay marriage. Thus, […]